More Is Less, Bitches
Delgo / Agent Bedhead
Film Reviews | December 15, 2008 | Comments ()
Dear Collective Animation
Lately, you seem to have backed your asses into a fine mess and, with the exception of Pixar and DreamWorks flicks, you’re pretty much fucked over a splintery barrel. Now, I love me some indie films just as much as that hipster in the next cubicle next, but with animation, you gotta be slick, ya dig? You see, when you have a primary audience of children, they’re basically gonna like everything they see, but the parents… don’t fuck with the parents. When these films hit the DVD shelves in time for Christmas, these parents have the power to choose which films they’d least mind repeatedly suffering through and tolerating as background noise as they attempt to review future piles of cinematic crap. So, with that in mind, here is a list, ranked in order of importance, of what actually matters in an animated film:
I. Story: It’s a damn shame that this even has to be said, but, on a budget of $40 million, a film should contain a coherent story that is somewhat original and not a mere amalgamation of whatever novels, films, or plays that screenwriters consider to be totally badass on any given day. Furthermore, since these writers’ tastes are constantly subject to change, a film that’s in production for a decade will necessarily start to show signs of multiple personality disorder. In that regard, Delgo is sort of like the Chinese Democracy of animation. This film has been gestating for so damn long that it doesn’t know what genre—Animation, Family, Sci-Fi, Romcom, Adventure—it belongs within, so little hope remains for a coherent story. Further adding to the confusion are the paw marks of two directors (Marc F. Adler, Jason Maurer) and the smeared ink of six writers (story by Marc F. Adler, Scott Biear, and Jason Maurer; screenplay by Patrick J. Cowan, Carl Dream, and Jennifer A. Jones), all of whom are equally culpable for this mess.
So, Delgo comes across as J.R. Tolkein meets Romeo and Juliet meets The Clone Wars meets Lord of the Rings meets Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties meets intergalactic space opera (not exactly in manner of L. Ron Hubbard, but almost as cringeworthy). Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being derivative. Hell, just about every filmmaker pays homage to one or more of their cinematic idols, but that’s not all that they do. Homage should be a mere ingredient of a writer’s own recipe, and, unfortunately, Delgo’s menu is more likely to encourage projectile vomiting than repeat visits to anywhere but the nearest restroom.
II. Animation: Contemporary animation has progressed so quickly in recent times that dropping the ball is simply inexcusable. Again, the long gestation period of Delgo pretty much kills its chances of being taken seriously here. The characters of Delgo shuffle about in the most stilted of manners that is rather reminiscent of Atari visuals. Hey, you know what should have happened to Delgo? Uwe Motherfucking Boll. Yes, that’s right, and I’ve never wished such an ex post facto atrocity upon a film, but this one seems like it would have actually benefitted a wee bit from Boll’s, uh, touch. At the very least, Boll would have properly run this motherfucker into the ground and prevented it from taking up the space of 2000 theaters on opening weekend. Call it a mercy killing, if you will.
III. Audio: This one is pretty damn simple, but Delgo commits such an epic fail on this point that it deserves its own category. Listen up—it is very important to synchronize the audio track with its video counterpart. Otherwise, the animation runs the risk of looking like a dubbed kung-fu film, which can generally get away with such kitschy awfulness. You, however, cannot do so.
IV. Cast: Contrary to most studios’ practices, a list of familiar names is not the most important factor in an animated film’s success. It isn’t, I repeat, it is not enough to just have a cast that brings name recognition to the promotional posters and film premieres. As an all-too-willing example, here is a brief recap of Delgo’s overcomplicated plot: An ongoing civil war plagues the land of Jhamora. It’s a throwdown, bitches, between the Nohrin, a winged species, and the Lockni, who are otherworldly (read: allegorical) beings. Naturally, in the midst of it all, Delgo (Freddie Prinze Jr.), a tempestuous teenage Lockni, swears hatred against the Nohrin, that is, until he meets the Lockni Princess Kyla (Jennifer Love Hewitt). These two star-crossed lovers stare longingly into each other’s eyes until they become mere pawns for the evil Sedessa (the late Anne Bancroft), who has somehow become Jhamora’s leader despite her banishment by the Nohrin, thanks in part to Raius (Malcolm McDowell), a pussy-whipped warmonger. As part of the needlessly complex precursor to battle, Sedessa has Kyla kidnapped, which spurs on Delgo and his posse, Filo (Chris Kattan) and Bogardus (Val Kilmer), to rescue the pathetic damsel in distress. In addition, Michael Clarke Duncan (continuing his uncanny presence in children’s cinema), appears as an Obi-Wan Kenobi figure tasked with training Delgo. The pulsing stones are just too much to mention, and if the audience isn’t interested yet, then the voices of Kelly Ripa, Eric Idle, Louis Gossett Jr., and Burt Reynolds aren’t going to help much either.
Well, I hope this list clears things up a bit for the animated filmmakers in the audience. Please refer to the Ikea instructions on this topic if you have any questions. Otherwise, go fuck yourselves…. oh wait, you’ve already done that.
Agent Bedhead (a.k.a. “Kimberly”) lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at agentbedhead.com.
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